Arancine (saffron rice ball)

Arancinais a name that probably comes from an old, Arab-saffron-scented, rice dish. It is enriched with small pieces of meat and vegetables. This dish was traditionally served on a tray in the middle of the table, from which each table member took his portion. The Arabs later made this dish compact by breading and deep-frying the rice to make it easier to transport.

Traditional arancina fillings are made with ragu, butter, bechamel or shredded ham. Chefs have come up with a variety of fillings in recent years. These include smoked salmon, pistachio, and eggplant.

They are called arancina (small orange) in Palermo because they have a circular shape. They are called arancini in eastern Sicily. It is a funny quarrel between those who call it “arancina” or those who prefer “arancino”. This divides Western and Eastern Sicily, and can be a great topic for conversation when you are trying one.


Rice Arancine and ragu

Ingredients for 20-22 Arancine

  • Special rice for arancine or flans is now available in shops.
  • Three litres of beef or vegetable stock
  • 100g butter
  • 1 onion
  • 2 saffron powder packets
  • 200 g caciocavallo cheese chopped into chunks
  • Flour
  • 2 eggs whites and 1 egg yolk
  • Breadcrumb
  • Olive oil


Method (for rice):

Make the stock and then add the saffron. Sauté the onion in butter, but do not let it brown. Stir in the rice and hot stock. Turn off the heat and cook the rice until it is cooked. Let it cool on a plate. Cook the risotto for 12 hours before adding the arancine.

Ingredients for the meat ragu

  • 400g minced beef
  • 100g tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 200g peas
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Half a glass of white wine


Method for the meat ragu:

Brown the onions, then add the minced beef. Reduce the wine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then, add the tomato paste and a little water. Set aside the peas and add them to your cold meat ragu.

Method (for the arancine).

Put a tablespoon of rice in your palm and flatten it into a disc. Place a tablespoon of ragu and a piece of caciocavallo. Add another tablespoon of rice to the mixture and wrap it in rice to completely cover it. Form a ball by pressing down gently. Once the filling is covered, roll the ball in flour. Next, dip it in egg and then in breadcrumbs. Once the arancine is prepared, heat a lot of oil to fry it until it turns golden.


Rice butter Arancine

The arancina “with butter”, a variant of the traditional arancina (which has a conical form), is another variation. It is prepared the same. Its filling is what makes it different.

  • 300g shredded Ham
  • 400 gr smooth cheese in chunks
  • 500g thick, rich bechamel sauce with nutmeg

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